Have you ever put your heart and soul into a project, only to analyze it later and discover things about the project you don’t like or wish you had approached differently? Though it sounds a bit hard to believe, for all his ingenuity, imagination, and creativity, Walt Disney also found himself looking back over projects–namely some of his animated features–and disliking parts of them.
In 1928, when Mickey Mouse first sailed across the screen in Steamboat Willie, no one could have guessed that he was only the beginning–the beginning of an empire that would become a national sensation and reach across the globe, resulting in millions upon millions easily recognizing the face of a mouse with red shorts and yellow shoes, and resulting in “Disney” becoming quite literally a household name.
Walt Disney was a genius, a visionary, a motivator, an equipper, a dreamer. But perhaps one characteristic about the sage animator that plagued him was his notorious perfectionism. It was something for which he strived, and that was no secret to those who knew him best. Maybe it was his perfectionism. Maybe it was something he truly felt should have been done differently. But whatever the reason, Walt made it known that there were things in many of his animated classics for which he didn’t care, and some of them left him downright disappointed.
Lady and the Tramp
Not too many animated films feel more “Disney” than the studios’ 1955 release, Lady and the Tramp about a cocker spaniel named Lady and a rough-around-the-edges dog on the streets named Tramp who end up falling in love, despite their many differences. It’s a film beloved by Disney fans young and old. But to Walt, the film had a huge problem, and it has to do with the most iconic scene of the film.
The spaghetti scene during which Lady and Tramp dine on spaghetti just outside Tony’s Restaurant and end up in an accidental kiss just didn’t sit well with Walt. He felt that the scene was a bit silly. In Walt’s thinking, dogs would certainly fight over food, not share it, if faced with the choice. Because of this, the scene, like the kitchen leftovers at Tony’s, was almost scrapped. Thank goodness for animator Frank Thomas who created the scene behind Walt’s back. It was only then that the scene was permitted to stay on as part of the feature offering.
Disney’s Peter Pan was inspired by the novel of the same name by J. M. Barrie. Barrie’s Peter Pan is very calloused, almost cold, and exhibits some shady behaviors. Disney’s version of Peter Pan’s character wasn’t nearly as cold as the novel portrays him, but in his book, Walt Disney: An American Original, author Bob Thomas says that Walt still didn’t like how cold Peter Pan’s character was, even in his own feature film.
Alice in Wonderland
According to Screenrant, Walt didn’t care for any part of the film that drew its inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is by far much more strange than Disney’s version:
“Movies don’t get much more weird or wonderful than Alice in Wonderland. It’s such a huge part of Disney culture today that it’s strange to think a time existed where it wasn’t appreciated for what it is: a cataclysm of sheer confusing creativity.”
As Alice says in the film, “This is the stupidest tea party I’ve ever been to in all my life!”
One (well, 101) of the most memorable things about Disney’s feature film 101 Dalmatians is of course the crazy number of pets with which Roger and Anita were ultimately blessed. The film is also memorable for its awful puppy-fur-wearing villain, Cruella De Vil. But perhaps another memorable feature about the film is the unique animation and drawing style that looks a bit scribbly. The messy, scribbly style was a new way of doing things, thanks to the use of a Xerox machine that made animation faster.
But Walt wasn’t a fan and just couldn’t get used to the new look of the animated feature film. He reportedly vowed it would never happen again, and he was right.
Goofy. Anything Goofy.
Goofy is a member of Disney’s “Sensational Six” groups of beloved characters. He has quite a following in the parks and among fans who love Disney movies and shorts. But word has it that if Walt had been around, we might never have had any Goofy-centered features.
Biographer Neal Gabler once posted an interview that ended up in The Mouse Castle. The interview makes claims that Disney wasn’t especially fond of the silly character, seeing Goofy as a step backward step for Walt Disney Studios. The interview goes on to claim that Disney thought Goofy projects were simply “stupid cartoons with gags tied together.”